Northwestern Events Calendar


Teaching Settler Colonialism and Strategies of Resistance

When: Monday, May 1, 2023
12:30 PM - 2:00 PM CT

Where: Scott Hall, Ripton Room 201, 601 University Place, Evanston, IL 60208 map it

Audience: Faculty/Staff - Graduate Students

Contact: Ariel Sowers   (847) 491-7454

Group: Department of Political Science

Category: Academic


Please join the Global Theory Workshop as they host Burke Hendrix, Professor of Political Science at the University of Oregon.

Many countries across the globe were created through settler colonialism, as existing populations were displaced and compressed to make room for colonizing newcomers. Most settler colonial countries still struggle in teaching this history, including the United States. This talk will examine the ways in which university courses on “American political thought” commonly ignore the political ideas and experiences of Native American nations, such that they replicate many of the historical erasures created by American expansionary policy. The talk will examine ethical questions about which figures to include in such courses and how to present them.  In particular, the talk will examine two distinct models of Native response to American expansion in the 1820’s-1830’s period. The first model, represented by the Pequot orator William Apess, sought to entirely overturn the normative frameworks underpinning American colonialism, while the second model, represented by Cherokee newspaper editor Elias Boudinot, sought to show that Native peoples were meeting American standards of civilization, and therefore should not be forced from their lands. Although the strongly-stated dissent of William Apess often resonates with students, the talk will argue that the more strategic politics of Elias Boudinot should be taught and studied as well.  Despite the sometimes-troubling nature of Boudinot’s political writings and actions, his work helps to highlight the brutal and uncertain choices characteristic of settler colonial contexts, and can therefore help students to think more clearly about the realities of power, agency, and choice in difficult conditions.

Burke Hendrix is a professor of Political Science at the University of Oregon. Burke Hendrix’s research and teaching focus on normative political theory, indigenous politics, global justice, and the history of political thought. He is especially interested in theories of political authority, state territoriality, historical injustice, and the ethics of political action.  Current research evaluates normative questions surrounding the land rights, sovereignty, and political choices of indigenous peoples within the United States, Canada, and other countries.  He is the author of two books, Ownership, Authority, and Self-Determination: Moral Principles and Indigenous Rights Claims (2008) and Strategies of Justice: Aboriginal Peoples, Persistent Injustice, and the Ethics of Political Action (2019), as well as articles on related topics, and is currently completing a book on non-ideal theory and indigenous politics.  He also has interests in just war theory, and has taught courses on this topic along with the Enlightenment, global ethics, liberalism, conservatism, and basic normative methodologies. He has additional teaching interests in comparative political thought, especially that of classical Chinese and Indian thinkers including the legalist philosophies of Han Fei and Kautilya. 

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